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Keep ‘em coming back: Keys to customer retention
Keep ‘em coming back: Keys to customer retentionIf you had the choice, would you prefer to continue doing business with an existing customer or would you rather go out and find a new customer?For most small businesses, the choice is easy. Conventional wisdom says it’s more profitable to keep an existing customer than to start a connection with a new customer – because you’ve already invested in building the current customer’s relationship.

What can you do to keep your customers coming back?  Whether you’re new to the customer retention conversation or looking for a quick refresher, we’ve pulled together some quick tips to customer retention.

Get a baseline measurement.
If you haven’t already obtained a baseline measurement of your current customer retention, here is a simple calculation to get you started:

Total number of customers – number of customers lost
Total number of customers

You can do this for your overall customer base as a whole or for key target audiences only. Once you have this number, you can set your customer retention goal.

Go beyond satisfaction.
There is a big difference between customers being satisfied and customers staying with you. For example, only 17 percent of satisfied customers of financial institutions claimed that they would not entertain a competing offer. That’s why it’s important to use customer retention surveys to measure more than satisfaction.

What more can you do?  Check in not only at the time of purchase, but also afterwards. Determine how long it takes for a customer to really become familiar with your product or service. Send a follow-up survey timed appropriately. Let customers know you value their input by including a Picture Key Holder with a print survey – or offering the Blueprint Tote Bag or Ultimate Tote Bag for completion of an online survey.

By learning whether your customers continue to believe they made a good choice, you’ll learn how likely it is they will stay with you. If they’ve had a post-purchase change of heart, it’s time to act and address their concerns. Even if you’re not counting on them to buy again, you want to make sure any potential referrals they make are positive.

Look for customers who appear to be reconsidering and develop promotions to stop them.

What causes customers to look at your competitors?  It’s likely a combination of internal and external factors. According to the Qualtrics Wiki on Customer Retention, poor service, the lack of personalization, cost/value breakdown, outdated customer information, competitor superiority or changes in needs are the factors that push customers to shop around. A J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Personal Insurance Retention Special Report found 26-30 percent of households shopped for a new insurance carrier in the last year. Analysts believe that customers began looking at options as the economic downturn began to affect them. If you find customers looking elsewhere, determine what is driving them – price, service or something else. Then, launch a promotion targeting their concerns.

Explore why current customers leave and act on what you learn.
Though we might wish it didn’t happen, we all lose a customer at some point. If you do, consider finding ways to learn from the loss. Some firms will conduct ‘exit interviews’ with customers to identify what factors led them to leave. Invite them to participate by sending Business Call Cards – Numi Tea Assortment and asking them to chat for a few moments. After your visit, send a Round Mint Container to thank them for sharing their ‘fresh’ perspective. Fix any issues about your product or service that were uncovered in the exit interview, then let customers who left know you’ve done so. This may be all it takes to bring them back to you.

Keep frontline staff in the loop.
Successful customer retention programs keep front-line staff in the loop, because their daily interactions directly influence a customer’s experience. Keep customer retention top-of-mind among frontline staff by distributing Memo Books with Pen and Paper – Translucent and asking them to note customer retention success stories and concerns. Personally praise and reward staff members who go above and beyond in serving customers or identifying potential problems.

Customer retention can be an important complement to existing marketing efforts. By getting a baseline measurement, setting retention goals and focusing promotions and improvement efforts on keeping customers with you, you’ll be well on your way to keeping your current customers. All of your efforts may just bring new customers in, too!



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